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Patriarchy of war

Kaitlyn Rabach | Sunday, February 3, 2013

This semester, I decided to broaden my horizons and take a gender and politics class. The professor recently asked the class to write a paper on the masculinity of war. My initial reaction to this topic was very constricted: Violence is often associated with male stereotypes, but other than that, how masculine is war?
After learning more about the topic, I was surprised to learn that not only are active participants of war characterized as masculine, but the underlying structure and language of war itself is centered on male dominance.
As I began to dig deeper into the patriarchy of war, I was surprised to see how few female voices were involved in foreign policy concerns, specifically in regards to the military.
I have never been a feminist that believes women are inherently peaceful, and I will always propose benevolent solutions to issues regarding international security, but I am a firm believer that when women are able to join in on discussions, different perspectives are brought to the table.
Our country is mostly run by white, male elites. Their perspective is narrow and often links international security with the military. War is often viewed as strong and manly, while other solutions to security like economic development and gender empowerment are often not proposed.
Placing women in security discussions will propose different solutions to security, and will ultimately lead to a more genuine and stable international community.
Feminists will ask questions about sexual violence, mass rape and structural displacement. They will wonder why men are using rape as a weapon of war. The International Criminal Court already proposes this tactic of war as a crime against humanity, but having that on the books is different than the world recognizing it as a human rights violation. 
Not only will feminists bring concerns of vulnerable individuals to the table, they can also be a force in reconstructing the language of defense, security and war. Currently, the language used by defense intellectuals is sexist and uses euphemisms to draw away from the reality of nuclear holocaust.
Not only does defense language stray away from reality, it also creates gender dichotomies. Masculinity is viewed as dominant and functional where feminine characteristics are viewed as weak and dysfunctional. For instance, when defense intellectuals are testing new bombs they use language like, “It’s a boy” to express successful tests.
Feminists can work to change this language. This change, along with the proposal of new security perspectives, will work to create a more stable international community.